A key part of The McKnight Group’s mission statement says, “enabling ministries with buildings that work.” We endeavor to do that by designing and constructing buildings of the right quality for the fairest price. But, as a church leader, it may not be obvious when the church building you have no longer works. Other times, it is plainly obvious. Over this and the next several posts, we’ll examine reasons why you might want to revisit your church design and update your church building.  

Reason 1: Your Church Building No Longer Meets the Basic Needs of Modern Ministry

This first reason is, for us, one of the most important. As we’ve discussed numerous times, your church vision for ministry should drive all the decisions you make about your church design.

Let’s consider the fact that churches didn’t change much for hundreds of years. Whatever did change, did so gradually. But in the last 30 years or so, modern ministry has brought about great and rapid change. Older church buildings haven’t been able to keep up. If, for example, your church building is in a neighborhood where the demographic has shifted and younger families are moving in, you want your church design to be attractive to these younger families. Many times, an old-fashioned church building just isn’t going to make the grade.

Taking a Good, Hard Look at Your Existing Church Design

Here are some examples of the ways that a church building might not be meeting your modern ministry needs: Foyers from older church buildings were usually small, dark, and dreary, with low ceilings and no place to hang out. There might have been signs that pointed to restrooms down the hall (or even on a different floor), but nothing was close enough to be easily accessible (or ADA compliant). It is often impossible to tell from the outside of an older church building if there’s anything going on inside, and because there are so few windows, it’s hard to see what’s going on, and for guests to feel safe about entering.

Suggestions for Updating Your Existing Church Building

Modern church design usually includes an expansive, airy, open foyer with plenty of room for mingling. These entry areas frequently contain a café and some comfortable seating that encourages people to spend time getting to know each other and developing relationships. Clearly visible and easily accessible restrooms are another feature in modern church foyers.

Lots of glass lets in good light and makes it evident what’s going on inside when people drive by your church building. Transforming your existing church design also gives you a chance to comply with current building codes and perhaps upgrade building systems, such as HVAC, without having the expense of constructing a new church building from scratch.

Over our fifty-year history, we’ve worked with church leaders to transform existing church facilities into buildings that work as tools for ministry. In the next segment of this series, we’ll discuss reason two for updating an existing church building: deterioration. Meanwhile, check out our forthcoming free i3 webinars, which give you a chance to learn about church design and ask us questions about your own church building situation.